One of Britain’s most successful choreographers and the mastermind behind Swan Lake, plans to give Romeo a male lover in a gay adaptation of the Shakespearean classic Romeo and Juliet.
Following the international success of Swan Lake, which has been touring for over ten years, Matthew Bourne is turning his attention to Romeo, Romeo.
It is an adaptation of Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet, which, like Swan Lake, will feature an all-male cast.
Speaking last week, Bourne said that the project’s success rests on portraying a convincing gay relationship in dance.
“Its more to do with dancing than with sexuality. A male dancer, whether he’s gay or straight, fits into a relationship with a female partner very happily,” he told The Sunday Times.
“Getting away from that, making a convincing love duet, a romantic, sexual duet, for two men that is comfortable to do and comfortable to watch – I don’t know if you can. I’ve never seen it done.”
Bourne’s ground-breaking Swan Lake, which cast all the swans and cygnets with male performers, was first staged in 1995 and has since become the longest running ballet in London’s West End.
However, Bourne has admitted that it stopped short of being a homosexual ballet because the dancers were not playing people.
“I have a way of approaching it so as to make it – I hate to say ‘acceptable’, it’s a terrible thing to say – but so that people don’t run screaming from the theatre,” he said.
“I let them find their own way with it, take it as far as they want in their own heads,” he added.
Bourne plans to work with small groups of dancers on preliminary movements and scenes this summer. Full scale rehearsals could begin next year.
Bourne has created choreography for several major revivals of classic musicals including Cameron Mackintosh’s productions of Oliver! (1994) and My Fair Lady (2002, UK Tour – 2005/6) as well as the National Theatre’s revival of South Pacific (2002).
In 2004 Matthew co-directed and co-choreographed the hit West End musical Mary Poppins and won the Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer.